My Body, Their Choice: Florida Anti-Abortion Clinics’ Bait-and-Switch Scheme

Florida Anti-Abortion Clinics’ Bait-and-Switch Scheme

Awash with taxpayer dollars, crisis pregnancy centers trick unsuspecting people into believing these “clinics” are real healthcare providers—with terrible consequences. A new report shines a light on the critical situation in Florida.

They’re everywhere. Crisis pregnancy centers, also known as anti-abortion pregnancy centers or fake clinics, are ubiquitous in the American landscape. 

You’re just as likely to find them around college campuses and low-income urban centers as you would in strip malls in small, rural communities, where healthcare is already difficult to find. 

Since the first one opened in Hawaii in 1967, these anti-abortion pregnancy centers have posed as legitimate healthcare providers and target pregnant people. Since the passage of Roe v. Wade in 1973, their expansion has been prolific, and there are now over 2,500 such clinics across the U.S. 
Despite these numbers, only 66% provide even limited medical services, according to a 2020 study by Drs. Swartzendruber and Lambert. 

There are over 190 of these centers in Florida alone, nearly four times the number of clinics actually providing reproductive healthcare. I’m part of the Floridians for Reproductive Freedom Coalition and its Fake Clinic Work Group.


Preying upon people desperate for help is bad enough, but what we uncovered about how these clinics operate was despicable.


For the past three years, the workgroup and our national partners have compiled a massive amount of data from research and public records requests on the inner workings of fake clinics in Florida Preying upon people desperate for help is bad enough, but what we uncovered about how these clinics operate was despicable. 

Florida anti-abortion pregnancy centers relied on donations from individuals and private foundations for decades, but their financial outlook has improved significantly since 2004. That’s when then-governor Jeb Bush instituted the Florida Pregnancy Support Services Program (FPSSP), an “alternative to abortion” agency. 

The FPSSP has received $2 million or more per year—increased to nearly $4 million as of 2014—to go towards centers that would solely promote childbirth. The Florida Pregnancy Care Network (FPCN), a conservative Tallahassee-based group, is the subcontractor that has been providing these services since 2006. As of 2018, the FPCN has taken in over $30 million from Florida’s coffers. 

Despite this budget, there are few to no regulatory requirements for these clinics. The source for some of this funding did not necessarily come from the general budget. 

From 2011–2019, then-Governor Rick Scott diverted between $1.5 and 2 million from rape crisis prevention funds to these centers—even though there is no evidence that they provide such services. 

Incidentally, Scott vetoed funding for actual rape crisis prevention services in 2014. Staffed primarily by volunteers, fake clinics are cash cows living off the taxpayer’s teat. Much of this money is obtained from government reimbursements. 

A registered nurse, who has had to pay for schooling and appropriate licensing, is reimbursed about $31 for a home health visit. Anti-abortion pregnancy centers reap nearly double that amount: $50 per visit, plus $1/ minute for counseling services that are often provided by volunteers. 

Let’s be clear: these clinics provide little if any actual healthcare beyond pregnancy tests and, at most, ultrasounds. 

They usually do not provide birth control unless to a married woman after consultation with her husband and pastor.

The bedside manner at these fake “clinics” is viler than their business practices. Clients are put into disposable hospital gowns and separated from their belongings, making it harder for them to leave.


Single people are told they should not have had sex in the first place, implying this is your own fault, after all.


Pregnant people are given medical misinformation that abortions will induce depression, increase the chances of breast cancer, and cause infertility and a whole host of other problems. Appointments are made as far out as possible in the hope that it will be too late to terminate the pregnancy. 

Interestingly, these clinics are not allowed to provide any religious content at all. Yet, to no one’s surprise, volunteers are recruited from websites immersed in religious content. Most clinics host dual sites: a secular site to attract clients, and a religious one for donors and volunteers. 

Volunteers are required to sign commitments to the Christian faith, pledge chastity if unmarried, and obtain recommendations from their pastors. Earn to Learn, a religious curriculum program supplies educational materials for many clinics. 

Religiosity comes from the top down. The administrators of FPCN post-right-wing conspiracy theories on social media and make no attempt to hide their biased religious convictions. 

Taxpayers in Florida are bankrolling these state-funded religious propaganda machines to shame, deceive, and subject people to unwanted proselytizing. 

They’ll be paying even more in 2021: in April, the Florida legislature increased the FPSSP’s budget by $500,000 for a total of $4.5 million next fiscal year. FPCN—and likely its counterparts in other states—prey upon desperate pregnant people and deny them the accurate information and basic healthcare they so urgently seek. 

Perhaps it would behoove these groups to take a more compassionate “pro-life” stance and deal with the problems of food insecurity, homelessness, and access to medical care that plague the lives of actual people that are already here.


By Devon Grahama research scientist with a Ph.D. in toxicology. She quickly became involved in state-level advocacy, testifying in the State House and Senate to oppose the wave of Christian nationalist bills introduced in Florida and winning our “Rising Star Award” for 2020. In 2021, she was named American Atheists’ Activist of the Year.

To read the full report on Florida’s fake clinics, go to

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